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Does Writing Require Experience? | SterlingTerrell.net

Does Writing Require Experience?


By: Sterling Terrell

I say you have to know something before you can write about it.

Right?

I mean:
  • Travel - then you can write about travel.
  • Sail - then you can write about the ocean.
  • Suffer - then you can write about suffering.
  • Study economics - then you can write about economics.
  • Live in Saudi Arabia - then you can write about living in Saudi Arabia.

You need experience before you can write.

Maybe not?

Donald Miller has forgotten more about writing than I have ever learned, and he says:

"A LOT OF people think a writer has to live in order to write, has to meet people and have a rich series of experiences or his work will become dull. But that is drivel. It’s an excuse a writer uses to take the day off, or the week or the month off for that matter. The thinking is, if we go play Frisbee in the park we’re going to have a thousand words busting out of us when we get back to the house. We’re going to write all kinds of beautiful prose about playing Frisbee. It’s never worked for me. Annie Dillard, who won the Pulitzer while still in her mother’s womb, wrote one of her books in a concrete cell. She says most of what a writer needs to really live they can find in a book. People who live good stories are too busy to write about them. Nobody ever strapped a typewriter to the back of an elephant and wrote a novel while hunting wild game. Nobody except for Hemmingway. But let’s not talk about Hemmingway."